Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a new baby. Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs during the first several months of their life. It also keeps them full and satisfies their thirst.
Despite any initial challenges, many mommas attempt to breastfeed their children before moving onto other sources of food.
I breastfed both my girls – 13 months with my oldest, and currently breastfeeding my little one (she is 4 months old!). My oldest never took a bottle until she was about 12 months old, and my little one only wants momma and pushes the nipple of the bottle with her tongue! Yep, that’s a sign that she will reject bottle feeding as well.
It was rather difficult to be exclusively breastfeeding. I had planned to express breast milk and feed them via a bottle. Trust me when I say I tried one too many bottles from the market. Apparently, none of the bottles were yummy enough! Haha! Or they just got spoiled because I did not introduce a bottle until much later (2-3 months).
Since they refused the bottles, expressing milk was out of the question.
One of the methods of increasing breast milk supply is pumping milk.
The more you pump, the more milk you produce. This is a common golden rule for nursing mothers.
This was also my motto before I started nursing my oldest. I had it all planned out. Feed the baby, pump, store, bottle feed!
But that didn’t happen!
And to make matters worse, Arya was a lazy drinker. She took all her sweet time nursing and I also feel she nursed less. She would sleep while feeding or get distracted and start sucking her fingers.
I was worried that I may dry up!
I know mothers who have fed their little ones for several years postpartum. I think that’s amazing!! Major kudos mommas because breastfeeding is HARD!!
I decided to continue breastfeeding exclusively, and even after I introduced solids, I continued to breastfeed Arya several times a day.
[Related: 22 Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms]
So how did I kept my supply going?
Trial and error! That’s how!
I winged it for the most part!
But here are some things that helped.
How I Got My Breast Milk to Last
Feeding the baby every 2-3 hours guarantees that your milk supply will continue and last. Why? Because the more the baby feeds, the more milk you produce.
Okay I know you must be thinking that babies don’t usually drink major gallons of breast milk at one time. True! But the small, frequent feedings tell your body that your baby requires milk every so many hours, and so your breasts will keep it ready. It is the same rule as pumping milk to make more milk.
Now if you want to pump those extras, that’s up to you. But for me, I made sure to feed my girls every 2-3 hours regularly. At nights, when they slept longer, my milk would still be there. And usually before the 5th hour of sleep, I would wake up and feed them (while they slept).
Eating good, protein-filled, and filling food. My favorite was eggs and spinach. I could eat hard-boiled eggs like there was no tomorrow. And guess what, eggs are one of the super foods! SUPER!!!
Drink gallons of water and I mean it! I made sure to drink a lot of water before, during, and after nursing. Milk is 88% water, so it makes sense that the more water you consume, the more milk you will make (considering your own body’s needs too!!)
Fenugreek seed/pills are now very commonly used by nursing mothers. I never took the fenugreek supplement however, I used the seeds in my drinks (see below), and the fenugreek leaves in my food.
Among other uses, fenugreek seed and leaves are commonly used in Indian cooking – for flavor and nutrition. It contains fiber, magnesium, and iron. Research supports that consuming fenugreek increases milk production in nursing mothers.
Avoid bottles and pacifiers
I know I was whining about my girls not using any bottles (or a pacifier), but this was a blessing in disguise. Exclusively breastfeeding kept my supply high until they were ready to switch to solids only.
Okay so this is a controversial topic, but I will share my opinion here.
I co-slept with both my girls. For the first few months (youngest is now 4 months and sleeps with me several days a week), I kept my baby in bed with me. This was easy during breastfeeding post- delivery, and I continued to keep her in my bed for safety reasons.
There are many benefits to co-sleeping with your little one. The closeness, the touching, and emotions that come from holding your baby close has proven to enhance mother’s milk (thanks to Prolactin and Oxytocin hormones!)
The Magic Ginger Concoction
After giving birth, Indian women are given this delicious concoction called Sonth. We all know that ginger is a magical root that can be used to treat anything and everything – from sore throat, to morning sickness, to boosting your metabolism – ginger helps with all!
Sonth is a drink made using ginger powder, turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek seeks, and ghee (clarified butter) cooked together with milk. It is a healthy and promising galactagogue which helps with breast milk production during the initial days post-delivery. It also heals the body and helps the new mom recover smoothly.
[Additionally: 8 Things No One Told Me About My New Born]
So there you have it mamas. I hope you try these tips and if you do, drop by and tell me how they went.
P.S. I am still breastfeeding my little one, so if you have any tips that I should know about, please do send it my way!